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  • From “The Summer of 1848” – Book 4 of the Olivia series

  • I recently published the latest (but not the last) book of the Olivia series. The first two chapters are available on my site. Here is a taste of what comes later: From the woods came loud cracks of breaking twigs and branches. Someone or something was charging past Mourning, sacrificing stealth for speed. But Mourning couldn’t see who or what it was. Kip? No. He couldn’t possibly be moving that fast. Mourning turned to look behind him, but saw no…

  • An Ordinary Man

  • That’s what I see in this face. My guess would be that he had either been through an ordeal or was speaking with compassion about someone else who had. This man was a loving husband and father, a good neighbor and employee, and an excellent administrator, well-respected for his efficiency and high work ethic. His interviewer quoted him as saying, “. . . my profession. I enjoyed it. It fulfilled me. And yes, I was ambitious about that, I won't…

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  • From “Olivia, Mourning”

  • For a moment she imagined the forlorn figure she must present – draped in black, stark against the glare of the snow, with the rust-colored splash of Tobey’s wide-brimmed felt hat on her head. She remembered the heavy oil paintings that hung in the public library over in Hillsong and could imagine a similar one of her, its neatly lettered caption reading “Orphan in Snow.” She clenched her jaw tight and stepped onto the walk, determined that no one was…

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  • Books by James Alexander Thom

  •   I should be ashamed to admit that I only recently discovered this author when one of his books (Follow the River) and then another (The Sign-Talker) were discounted and advertised on BookBub. I look forward to reading more, despite how demoralizing an experience that is for an author of historical fiction who is not named James Alexander Thom. Never mind the amount of research this man does – that could easily result in a stunningly boring book. But in…

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  • From “The Lonely Tree”

  •   When Tonia went down to throw out the trash one evening, she saw Rina standing on the other side of the street, whispering with Shai, one of the older neighborhood boys. She had just opened her mouth to shout "Rina has a boyfriend!" when Shai pointed at her. She tossed the garbage in the bin and skipped over to join them. "She"s too little," Rina said. "My mother would kill me if we got caught." "So we won"t get…

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  • Get Even More Serious

  • You know how you nag your kids? Watch out –  they grow up and start nagging you right back. Sometimes it's even worse than that. I found myself being scolded that just because I don't enjoy doing something, that doesn't mean I don't have to do it. Not everything in life is fun. In a previous post I wrote about learning to take myself seriously as a writer. But at least that's something I enjoy doing. Then the minute I…

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  • Cane River by Lalita Tademy – Great Historical Fiction/History

  • I first read this book over a decade ago, but recently picked it up again, and again had trouble putting it down. Based on the author's years of research into her own family's history in a small community in Louisiana before, during, and after the Civil War, it takes an unblinking look at the complicated relationships between slaveholders (black and white), slaves, and free people of color, often focusing on white fathers and their mixed race children. It is extremely…

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  • The Paper Dolls Did It

  • I am working on a second book about Charlene, Reeves, and Charlie and plan for there to be a third. In the last one Charlene will come into possession of Olivia's fourth journal. But how? I haven't found a believable way for that to happen. I am also working on another book about Olivia and Mourning, in which Olivia and her friend Michelle continue their business, making and selling paper dolls, playing cards, and post cards. My great-grandmother and her…

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  • Get Serious

  • Writers are a strange lot. Most of us approach our first work of fiction fretting and sweating – do I have the talent/inspiration/originality to carry it off? But we seldom doubt our basic writing skills. After all, we are the kids who got As on their English essays and heard things like, “Oh my gosh, your letters are so funny, you ought to write a book!"   I remember myself, many years ago, struggling with the manuscript that would evolve…

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